Ubuntu release cycle – An albatross for Canonical?

In just under two months, there is going to be a new release of Ubuntu nicknamed Karmic Koala. There has been a lot of hype in the Ubuntudom about how this release is going to be the one we’ve all been waiting for. I sincerely hope it will be so. However, for some time now, it seems that the number of bugs that are reported for each release just keeps increasing. This is a very disturbing trend that in my view can be attributed to the rigid release cycle that Canonical has imposed upon itself.
The current Ubuntu release cycle which is twice a year has its advantages. Key amongst them being that it puts Ubuntu on the headlines twice every year. This is good. But is it not just too rigid? Releasing an OS entails a lot of testing which requires time. The time between one release and the next is just not enough to carry out a more extensive testing. The current release in April this year had some of the highest number of bugs reported. It looked more like a beta release than a stable release. This does not help in the quest for a  wider adoption of Ubuntu.
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and life patron of the Ubuntu project, had promised a new theme and interface for Ubuntu for sometime now. This however, keeps getting postponed. I am of the view that  the release cycle should be given a second look. It could be reviewed to nine months instead of the current six months if that means we get a release which is stable and has less bugs. I also strongly do not think the current twice per annum release is helping Ubuntu in the enterprise market.
It is good to have regular releases in order to give users a cutting edge OS, but that should be balanced with stability and extensive pre-release testing . It seems the two times per year release cycle has become an albatross for Canonical which has to be really looked at again. I know the LTS release is generally more stable than the normal releases. But I still think more can be done to make the normal releases also relatively stable enough and the release cycle is a very important factor.
Do you think the current Ubuntu release cycle is helping Ubuntu? Do you agree with the six month release cycle? Should it be reviewed? Share your thoughts. Talkback!

2 Replies to “Ubuntu release cycle – An albatross for Canonical?”

  1. I think Karmic will turn out OK, but Jaunty was a complete fiasco. Drivers for the Intel video cards were badly broken and ATI's closed-source drivers weren't yet compatible with the new XORG stack. It should *never* have shipped with drivers for two out of the three main video chipsets damaged or missing.

  2. I don't think the release cycle is a problem for businesses*; it hasn't been for us. You stick with an LTS until about 4 months after the next LTS is released.

    I agree the increase in bugs is alarming, but is there any way to know if that has anything to do with the growing user base?
    I think remaining rigid on the normal releases is fine. XP and Vista were nightmares when they were released…*sighs*. So too it has been for RHEL 4 and 5 and SuSE 9-11.

    * Caveat: I do strongly believe that they need to take their time on the LTS releases. If that means we have to wait a year, then we have to wait a year–I want something I can roll out and not have to spend 17 hours on Launchpad reporting and updating bugs like I had to do with 8.04. It took about 4 months to clear out all the trouble tickets for 8.04.

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